When you walk past the wildscape garden at The University of Texas-Pan American, you will notice something different: a 3-foot by 3-foot bronze memorial plaque honoring veterans of the five branches of the military.
The plaque, which sits on a large stone base, was installed Dec. 8 in the garden. UTPA has since renamed the garden The University of Texas-Pan American Veterans Memorial Garden.
"This veteran's memorial shows the true dedication the staff and faculty have in acknowledging those who have served and those who continually serve," said Noel A. Ysasi, manager of the Veteran Services Center at UTPA.
In the United States, there were only six veteran memorials on college campuses. UTPA is now the seventh campus to put up a veteran's memorial. Ysasi considers this a great honor to all veterans and to the University.
"When I was working on trying to get a designated location on campus and it got approved, I thought it wasn't just good enough to have a garden," said Ysasi. "I felt we needed something physical and concrete to show that this is the designated area for this memorial. Those in the upper chain in command couldn't agree more."
Seeing this project completed is something that Ysasi had been looking forward to since its initial stage almost a year and half ago.
"I am a veteran and I can tell you that when I first saw the plaque, I got emotional because I think it's so amazing to be part of an institution that truly recognizes and acknowledges those who have served," said Ysasi. "There are staff, faculty and students who have already walked by the plaque and have told me that their hearts melted when they saw this because they feel that the University is looking out for our veterans."
The plaque's design and creation was overseen by a committee of administrators, staff and faculty. They were assisted by Rio Grande Valley native, and well-known sculptor, Douglas Clark, a part-time faculty member, who created the statues located at the Veteran's Memorial in McAllen.
"We would like the public to know about the efforts our University has made to honor our veterans and that we recognize their bravery and sacrifice," said Ysasi. "Our University was recently deemed military friendly and this is one of the reasons why."
Ysasi, a Navy veteran who is currently working on his doctoral degree in rehabilitative counseling at UTPA, said he feels more should be done for our veterans.
"I can tell you that a lot of veterans don't get the recognition they deserve. They need to be embraced, acknowledged, heard and understood," said Ysasi. "Most, if not all veterans, wish for a simple 'Thank You' for what they've done for our country. This memorial is our way of saying 'Thank You' and making our veterans feel welcome at UTPA."
For more information, contact Ysasi at (956) 665-7934.